Research

TESL Ontario supports research and scholarship among the TESL community of practice. Research that contributes to the field of English language teaching and learning is important to the continued advancement of the TESL profession in Ontario and beyond.

TESL Ontario research initiatives connect researchers to English language educators, share research reports with the TESL community and provide opportunities for researchers to work with TESL Ontario on research projects and programs.

Researchers: Connecting with TESL Ontario members

Members: Call for Research Participants

Researchers: Connecting with TESL Ontario members

TESL Ontario is pleased to support research that contributes to the field of language teaching and learning, and benefits TESL Ontario members. Many of our members have participated in empirical research and made significant contributions to a variety of studies.

If you are interested in reaching out to our members to invite them to participate in your research, complete the application form and send your request to administration@teslontario.org. The application will be reviewed to make sure it meets standards for ethical research and is suitable to the TESL Ontario membership.

If you are affiliated with a postsecondary institution and have already obtained ethics approval to conduct your study, please include the ethics approval document from your institution along with your application. If you are an independent researcher and have not completed an ethics review protocol, please contact us. We will ask you to complete the TESL Ontario Ethics Review Protocol in order for us to review your request.

 

Call For Research Participants

TESL Ontario is pleased to support research initiatives by giving members a chance to participate. All research initiatives posted here are submitted to an ethics review before they are made available. The final reports will also be made available on this site.

Research Project: Writing Pedagogies and Generative AI

As an educator who supports writers, how are you adapting your approach to teaching writing to work with, around, or against the use of ChatGPT and other generative artificial intelligence (genAI) writing machines? Will genAI become for writing instruction what the calculator did for math instruction? What are the possibilities and pitfalls of writing with AI? What new strategies might writers need to develop? And what are the ethical implications? You are invited to participate in an interview to explore these questions because you work with students or professionals to develop their writing skills.

Please contact the researcher for the letter of information. Interviews will be conducted online and audio-recorded for analysis. They will take 40-60 minutes and you’ll receive a $50 Amazon gift card as a thank you for your time. Please contact the principal investigator, Dr. Mary Ott, if you would like more information about the study: mott@yorku.ca. To schedule an interview at a time convenient to you, please contact Mercedes Veselka at: mveselka@yorku.ca

With thanks,

Mary Ott, PhD
Kathy Hibbert, PhD
Sayra Cristancho, PhD
Lorelei Lingard, PhD

Research Project: Advancing Agency in Language Education

Canadian language teachers are eager to adopt plurilingual, action-oriented and digital pedagogies but may face challenges in the process. We are conducting innovative research to provide teacher resources and design a pan-Canadian toolkit with rich resources that will be made available for free but we need to hear your voice first.
Participate in this brief 15-20 minute survey (available in four languages), share your experiences, and help change the future of language education in Canada. Click the link below to participate and be an integral part of this transformative research project.

https://aaleproject.wixsite.com/aale/landscape-surveys
Thank you for your time and collaboration.
Advancing Agency in Language Education (AALE) Project
https://aaleproject.wixsite.com/aale

If you have any questions about this survey, please contact our Research Assistant, Karam Noel, at: karam.noel@mail.utoronto.ca
This study will be available for completion until November 1st, 2024.
Thank you for considering participating in this project!
Kind regards,
Advancing Agency in Language Education Research Team.

Research Project: University Transition of International Students

You are invited to participate in the study “University Transition of International Students” that we, Ridha Ben-Rejeb (researcher) and principal investigator Dr Frank Boers are conducting at Western Education. This study aims to explore the experiences of individual international students as they transitioned from an English language preparatory program in Canada to pursue undergraduate studies at a Canadian university. The inquiry focuses particularly on identifying language skills, strategies and resources that enhanced their university transition and success. The study also solicits your feedback particularly about learning gains, English language readiness skills and coping strategies that are, in your opinion, useful and effective for success in a first-year university academic experience. The interview will take approximately one hour. You may answer questions at your own discretion or not at all. There are no right or wrong answers.

This is a voluntary interview. If you are interested in participating in this study interview, you can opt to either meet with me online over Zoom or complete the interview questions by accessing the project site link: https://owl.uwo.ca/x/H8Gj0E

Please feel free to email me at rbenreje@uwo.ca if you would like to arrange an online interview over the Zoom at a time of your convenience. If you opt for the written responses interview on the OWL project site, you will be asked to provide a preferred email contact to rbenreje@uwo.ca so you can be added to the list of study participants who will have access to the online project site, hosted by the Western OWL Learning site.

To participate in the study, please click here to access the letter of information and consent form.

If you require any further information regarding this research project or your participation in the study, you may contact the investigators: Ridha Ben-Rejeb at rbenreje@uwo.ca

If you have any questions about the conduct of this study or your rights as a research participant, you may contact the Office of Human Research Ethics at 519.661.3036 or ethics@uwo.ca

Research Project: Hiring Criteria and Employability of ESL/EFL Teachers in the TESOL Job Market in Canada and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

You are being invited to participate in a study conducted by Dr. Shelley Taylor, Principal Investigator, and Shaden Attia, co-investigator, about the Hiring Criteria and Employability of ESL/EFL Instructors in the TESOL Job Market in Canada and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Your participation in this study will help us to better understand the main hiring criteria expected from ESL/EFL teachers, the employability of teachers in today’s global market, and the effect of globalization on the TESOL field.

We are recruiting participants from three different groups:

  • ESL/EFL instructors who speak English as a second or additional language, with experience in a higher education institute (university or college) in Canada and/or the UAE.
  • Recruiters with experience hiring ESL/EFL instructors in a higher education institute in Canada and/or the UAE
  • Program administrators with experience managing an ESL/EFL program in a higher education institute in Canada and/or the UAE

For instructors, if you volunteer to participate in the study, you will first fill out a questionnaire, which takes approximately 10 minutes. Then, you will complete a journal reflection, which should take approximately 15-20 minutes, and finally you will be invited to attend an online interview session. The interview will be one-on-one, approximately 30 minutes, and conducted via Zoom.

For Recruiters, if you volunteer to participate in the study, you will first fill out a questionnaire, which takes approximately 10 minutes. Then, you will be invited to attend an online interview session. The interview will be one-on-one, approximately 30 minutes, and conducted via Zoom.

For program administrators, if you volunteer to participate in the study, you will be invited to attend an online interview session. The interview will be one-on-one, approximately 30 minutes, and conducted via Zoom.

Compensation: If you participate in the questionnaire, you will be offered the opportunity to enter a draw to win a 15-dollar e-gift card (Amazon or Tim Hortons). Also, each interview and journal reflection participant will receive a 15-dollar e-gift card each (Amazon or Tim Hortons).

Study Details for ESL/EFL instructor participants: ESLEFL Instructor Participants’ Invitation.pdf
Study Details for Recruiter participants: Recruiter Participants’ Invitation.pdf
Study Details for Program Administrator participants: Program Administrators’ Invitation.pdf

If you would like more information on this study and if you are interested in participating, please contact the co-investigator, Shaden Attia, at sattia2@uwo.ca, or the principal investigator, Shelley Taylor, at taylor@uwo.ca.

Research Project: English Language Teacher (ELT) Self-Directed Teacher Learning (SDTL) in Online Spaces: Case Studies of Teacher Explorers

I am a PhD Candidate at York University, who is looking for participants for my dissertation research project English Language Teacher (ELT) Self-Directed Teacher Learning (SDTL) in Online Spaces: Case Studies of Teacher Explorers. Briefly, I am looking for experienced English language teachers (5 years+) who engage in professional development activities online because of their own interest (i.e., not due to their employer’s requirement, or to fulfill re-certification requirements). I am hoping to learn more about your motivations, learning experiences, and reflections on teaching. Participants will be asked to track their activities over a 3-month period, keep a journal, take part in two 60-minute interviews and one 45-minute webinar. If you are interested, please see a fuller description and consent form on the Call for Participants and contact me at cfretz@yorku.ca

Please download and review the consent letters here.

Research Project: English Language Instructor’s/Teacher’s approaches to teaching Confucian students

My name is Jessica Portelance and I am a master’s student working under the supervision of Dr. Elizabeth Falzone in the Department of Education at Niagara University. As part of my master’s degree, I am conducting a research study on current English Language Instructor’s/Teacher’s approaches to teaching students who come from Confucian heritage cultures in an online setting. If you have experience as an English language instructor/teacher/professor/professional with students in this demographic, I would like to invite you to participate in this study and offer your insights.

For the purpose of this study, “Confucian heritage culture” will refer to cultures originating in countries categorized as “Confucian Asia” in the Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness (GLOBE) project (2020), which categorizes countries based on societal values and behaviours deemed desirable in general. These countries include China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. Also included in this definition will be Vietnam, as Vietnam is frequently associated with Confucian heritage culture (Weiming, 2019), despite that it is notably missing from GLOBE’s data. This study will not address the debate on whether Taiwan and Hong Kong are truly individual countries separate from China, and will follow GLOBE’s lead in establishing them as separate entities for cultural consideration.

If you decide to volunteer for this study, your participation will consist of a 1-hour focus group consisting of 3-5 participants, which will take place via videoconference (Zoom and/or GoogleMeet). After participating in a focus group, you may be asked to take part in a one-on-one follow-up interview via video conference (Zoom and/or GoogleMeet), and/or submit a previously used lesson plan and/or sample assignment/task given to students as artifacts for review and analysis. During the focus group interview you will be asked questions about your current practices when working in an online learning environment with students who come from Confucian heritage cultures, as well as your views and opinions around the needs of students from Confucian heritage cultures. With your permission, I would like to record these interviews to ensure accurate transcription and analysis. Any information made public will remain anonymous and only my professor and I will have access to the data collected containing any individually identifiable data. All individually identifiable data will be destroyed upon completion of the study.

This study has been reviewed and received ethics clearance through the Institutional Review Board, Niagara University’s research ethics board.

If you would like to participate, or you require additional information to assist you in reaching a decision about participation, please do not hesitate to contact me at jportelance@mail.niagara.edu. You may also contact my supervisor at eay@niagara.edu.

References
Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness. (2020). Confucian Asia. Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness Project. https://globeproject.com/results/clusters/confucian-asia?menu=cluster#cluster
Weiming, T. (2019). Confucianism. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Confucianism

Research Reports

Registry of TESL Researchers

Research Reports

These research reports were conducted with the cooperation of TESL Ontario. Future research conducted through the TESL Ontario membership will be made available here.

Desyatova, Y. (2018). “Batting the Piñata and Swallowing Camels”: Teachers Learn to PBLA in the Absence of Dialogic Interaction. TESL Canada Journal, 35(2), 51-77. https://doi.org/10.18806/tesl.v35i2.1290

This article analyzes teacher professional development (PD) mandated by the implementation of portfolio-based language assessment (PBLA) in government-funded adult language learning programs in Canada. Through the lens of conceptualizations of teacher learning (TL), the study examined PBLA teacher-training materials, 247 teacher surveys, and participant interviews pertaining to two contrasting cases. The analysis of teacher experiences in PBLA PD revealed limited theoretical and empirical connections to recent developments in second language teacher education (SLTE). While current SLTE research emphasizes self-directed TL, the PBLA train-the-trainer model demonstrates top-down knowledge transmission with a potentially undermining evaluative component. The hierarchical transmission of knowledge created for teachers without opportunities for knowledge building by teachers contradicts current understandings of TL as a complex sociocultural activity. Limited effectiveness of PBLA as a TL experience may be further diminished by its potential use for punitive surveillance, as demonstrated in the extreme case analysis. As a result of this study, Richards and Farrell’s conceptualizations of TL were complemented with an additional perspective informed by sociocultural theory—TL as dialogic interaction. The disconnect of PBLA vision and practice from current SLTE requires further research and attention from policymakers.

Waterhouse, M., & Driedger, C. (2018). Teacher perspectives on the affective dimensions of immigrant language classes: pedagogical and social implications. Interim Report, Université Laval, Quebec

Every year thousands of adult immigrants and refugees enroll in Canada’s federal Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program and Quebec’s Programme d’intégration pour les immigrants (PILI) to acquire the basic language skills they need to settle into their new home.

Compelling new research shows that the complexity of the integration experience can transform immigrant language classrooms from neutral sites of ESL or FSL learning to affectively- and emotionally-charged spaces. Within these spaces, teachers play a key role in the language development and integration of newcomers. Yet we know very little about how teachers experience the emotional and affective dimensions of classroom life. In order to meet the objectives of adult education, experts point out that more attention must be given to teachers and the emotional labour they do in language classrooms.

This study has two phases. Phase one was completed in June, 2018, and yielded promising results. Phase two is currently underway.

Click here to read the interim report.

Zeldenrust, G. (2017). Teaching Pragmatics to Newcomers to Canada. Unpublished Master of Education Thesis, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario

The purpose of this project was to examine how ESL teachers teach pragmatics to new immigrants preparing to work in Canada, and to develop a practical resource to assist in the delivery of pragmatic linguistic material. The resource was created in response to the literature, which outlined effective approaches to teaching pragmatics, along with a needs assessment that gathered information from teachers in Ontario who teach workplace readiness ESL courses. The literature confirmed that teaching pragmatics using an explicit-inductive approach and presenting pragmatic content in a sequence-specific method is a beneficial undertaking. The data gathered from the needs assessment indicated a need for a technique to sequence and structure the delivery of pragmatic instruction in a way that supports the learning of linguistic norms on a wide range of pragmatic topics. Eight ESL teachers who teach ELT, OSLT, and LINC 6 and above responded to a needs assessment interview guide. The data collected highlighted a need for a practical technique that allows for delivering pragmatic content in accordance with theory espoused in the pragmatic linguistic teaching literature. The resource includes a practical teaching technique intended to be flexible enough to cover a wide variety of pragmatics topics. The Awareness, Analysis, Understanding, Use, (AAUU) technique promotes awareness, analysis, understanding, and use of pragmatic linguistic structures promoting the learning and use of culturally conditioned language.

Click here to read the report.

Douglas, S. & Kim, M. (2014). Task-based Language Teaching and English for Academic Purposes: An Investigation into Instructor Perceptions and Practice in the Canadian Context. TESL Canada Journal, 31(8), 1-22. http://dx.doi.org/10.18806/tesl.v31i0.1184

English for Academic Purposes (EAP) programs designed to meet postsecondary English language proficiency requirements are a common pathway to higher education for students from non-English-speaking backgrounds. Grounded in a Canadian context, this study seeks to examine the prevalence of Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) in EAP, common examples of EAP tasks, and the benefits and drawbacks of this approach for EAP students. EAP professionals (n = 42) were recruited from the membership of TESL Canada, and participants completed a questionnaire on their perceptions of TBLT for EAP. Of those who participated, 69% reported using TBLT in at least half of their lessons, with 86% of the participants indicating that TBLT was suitable for EAP instruction. Further qualitative analysis of the data revealed that presentations, essays, and interviews were the top three tasks employed by EAP teachers; the practicality, effectiveness, and learner-centredness of TBLT were its major benefits; and mismatched student expectations, lack of classroom time, and excessive instructor preparation were TBLT’s major drawbacks. Ambiguity regarding what constitutes TBLT was also found in the data. It appears that TBLT is used by participants across Canada and is well accepted as a teaching approach. However, some concerns associated with TBLT in EAP remain to be addressed.

Douglas, S. (2014). Teacher perceptions of task-based language teaching and learning across Canada. In H.M. McGarrell & D. Woods (eds.) Contact: Refereed Special Research Symposium Issue, 40(2), 11-31. Retrieved from https://teslontario.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/ResearchSymposium2014.pdf

This paper presents results from an online survey designed to explore teacher perceptions of Task-based Language Teaching (TBLT) in the Canadian context. The survey was grounded in Ellis’ (2009) definition of TBLT as focusing on communication and meaning with a necessary exchange of information, a reliance on students own linguistic resources, and an ultimate outcome. Participants were recruited from the Teachers of English as a Second Language Canada Federation (TESL Canada) membership, with a total of 217 out of a possible 6,833 members taking part. Through the coding and grouping of participant responses, emergent themes arose in the data regarding successful examples of TBLT tasks, the benefits of TBLT, the drawbacks of TBLT, and participants’ further thoughts on the topic.

Chung, S. (2014). Pre-service and in-service ESL teachers’ beliefs about the use of digital technology in the classroom, Unpublished Master of Arts Thesis, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario

It has long been accepted that teachers’ beliefs guide their classroom practices (Pajares, 1992; Fang, 1996; Woods, 1996; Borg, 2006). Yet, little is known about what teachers believe about digital technology integration, despite the attempts by mainstream education to incorporate it into language teaching, especially in the field of second language education. Using Borg’s (2006) framework of language teacher cognition, this study investigated the beliefs of pre-service and in-service ESL teachers about the use of digital technology in the classroom, and the factors that influence those beliefs. Thirty-five Canadian pre-service and in-service ESL teachers completed an online survey and some were interviewed (n =10). The findings suggest that the participants generally hold positive attitudes about using digital technology in the second language classroom. These beliefs seem to be influenced by the participants’ classroom practice, experiences with digital technology, technology-related training, context(s) in which such digital technology was used, and age.

https://curve.carleton.ca/29ef113c-603c-4e07-8f9d-84e15710ff08

Researchers at the University of Western Ontario and York University investigated how novice ESL teachers perceived the usefulness of their TESL teacher preparation. Read the abstract below and see the TESL Ontario Conference presentation. The full article is available from TESOL Quarterly Journal or by contacting the authors.

Faez, F., & Valeo, A. (2012). TESOL teacher education: Novice teachers’ perceptions of their preparedness and efficacy in the classroom. TESOL Quarterly, 46(3), 450 – 471.

This study examined the teacher education of novice teachers of English to speakers of other languages (ESOL). A survey and follow-up interviews were employed to investigate novice teachers’ perceptions about four aspects of their teacher preparation: (a) degree of preparedness to teach after graduating from a teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) program, (b) preparedness after classroom experience (up to 3 years), (c) sense of efficacy to complete teaching practices in adult ESOL classrooms, and (d) perceptions of what was useful to them in the TESOL program. Accredited ESOL teachers with less than 3 years of experience (N = 115) completed a questionnaire that explored their perceptions of preparedness and efficacy to teach in adult ESOL programs in Ontario, Canada. Eight teachers participated in follow-up semistructured interviews. Findings show that although, overall, novice teachers increased their perceptions of preparedness by gaining experience in the classroom, their sense of efficacy to perform within certain teaching expectations was task specific and highly situated. The practicum and “real” teaching experiences were found to be the most influential aspects of the induction programs. These findings have implications for teacher educators, TESOL institutions, and accreditation bodies that are committed to preparing qualified teachers for adult ESOL programs.

Researchers at the University of Alberta surveyed the teaching of pronunciation in adult ESL programs in Canada. Read the abstract and find the full article at the following link: http://www.teslcanadajournal.ca/index.php/tesl/article/viewFile/1086/905

Foote, J. A., Holtby, A. K., & Derwing, T. M. (2011). Survey of the teaching of pronunciation in adult ESL programs in Canada. TESL Canada Journal, 29 (1), 1-22.

This follow-up study reexamines the state of the teaching of pronunciation in ESL classes across Canada. The purpose of the survey was twofold: to gain a snapshot of current practices and to compare this with the picture of 10 years ago. We based the current work on Breitkreutz, Derwing, and Rossiter’s (2001) survey asking teachers about resources, approaches, and beliefs about teaching pronunciation. We also asked for background information about the instructors’ formal education and teaching experience. For the most part, instruction in pronunciation in Canada has not changed substantially in the last decade. More training opportunities are available, although these are still not enough according to many of our respondents. The number of pronunciation courses offered in English-as-a- second-language (ESL) programs has also increased. Teachers’ beliefs about pronunciation instruction remained largely the same, with a similar focus on suprasegmentals and segmentals. However, we did find a slight difference in how teachers approached these two aspects of pronunciation. Ten years ago, teachers reported emphasizing both aspects in class, whereas today there seemed to be a slightly greater focus on segmentals. Finally, we offer several recommendations for TESL programs, ESL programs, and ESL instructors.

Registry of TESL Researchers

TESL Ontario is calling for interested members to join a Registry of TESL Researchers. Members of this registry will have the opportunity to contribute to a range of research related tasks and activities to support the mandate and strategic direction of the organization. In this context, research expertise involves the ability to systematically investigate specific questions or explore ideas that will inform the work of the organization and its members. Specific activities and tasks that draw on research expertise may involve the following:

  • Design and carry out research using tools such as surveys, interviews, focus groups
  • Review professional and research literature to identify trends and needs
  • Use a variety of approaches to analyze and interpret research data
  • Prepare and present research reports

These kinds of activities require knowledge of research methodology, experience designing research and familiarity with the context of TESL Ontario and its membership. A graduate degree in Applied Linguistics, Second Language Education or a related field and evidence of research experience are required as minimum evidence of this expertise. In order to help us fully consider the application, we ask that you write a brief response of no more than one page describing your research experience and how you believe you will be able to contribute your research expertise to the needs of TESL Ontario. Please complete the online application form and attach a current CV.

Registry of TESL Researchers online application form